I don’t like teaching little kids.

DrumDoug

Senior Member
I mentioned this in another thread, but back in January, I took a job as a drum instructor at a music store. This is my first time teaching lessons. I had visions of helping kids with reading, independence, learning songs, ect. I realize now that in my head, I was imagining teenagers. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a music store or what, but all of the 10 or so students that have come through have been in the 6-9 year old range. All but one were complete beginners and only two have drums at home. Other than the two with drums, the kids don’t seem interested in music. They say they don’t listen to music. I get the impression that’s it the parents trying to find activities for the kids. As far as I can tell, none of them practice at home. I think the parents want to see if the kids have an interest or talent before they buy them drums. I understand that, but some of the kids have had 10 or so lessons with me and still can’t play a basic beat. I know they don’t have drums, so I’ve tried to show them how to practice playing on their legs and the floor. One kid could not move his feet in time to a beat after 5 weeks. I thought I would try hand drums but dad got upset that we weren’t doing drum set and he hasn’t been back for two weeks. My newest student has a “stage dad” as the store owner calls him. He plays drums but wants someone else to teach the lesson. He sits in on the lesson and grabs the kids hands to show him how it goes. The owner doesn’t want me to say anything because he doesn’t want to lose a student. I know I could just sit back, take the money and not worry about if the kids are progressing or not. That seems wrong to me. I know it sounds stupid, but teaching these little kids is stressing me out. I don’t enjoy it at all. I also substitute teach and I don’t do elementary for the same reason. I don’t feel like I’m teaching. At the store it just seems like drum themed babysitting. I’ve never had drum set lessons, I learned how to read music in school music programs and taught myself with books and videos. Maybe I just have unrealistic expectations about what giving lessons is like. I’m not sure if it will get better over time, but right now I dread having to go give those lessons. I’m having an inner struggle with the idea that I don’t like teaching, or I just don’t like teaching little kids. I love drums and learning and talking about it. Why is this so stressful?
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
That's exactly why I didn't last long as a drum teacher.

There are drum teachers who like the challenge, and even thrive on the challenge. But trying to teach kids who were only vaguely interested in the drums, or whose drum lessons were just one of their many afterschool activities didn't do much for me.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
My unmitigated opinion: If the student refuses to practice at home, he or she has no business being enrolled in lessons, and the parent is wasting both money and the instructor's time. Yes, aspects of learning should be fun, but the formal study of an instrument requires work and dedication. The pursuit isn't for everyone. Not every kid who bangs away on tables and seat cushions is cut out to be a drummer. Lessons require a serious mindset. If kids don't have it yet, they aren't ready for lessons. Maybe they never will be. Regardless, you can't force-feed knowledge. Progress is in the hands of the student, not in those of the teacher.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
. . . or whose drum lessons were just one of their many afterschool activities didn't do much for me.
You highlight a significant shortcoming of modern society. Too many kids are overbooked with activities. They have minimal time to focus on anything. I suspect some parents are in search of incessant daycare. The more they sign their kids up for, the less they have to interact with them. It's a misguided mission that can cause stimulation overload. Exposure to everything means retention of nothing.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Little kids are great - till some parents screw then up. Then the kid ends up on medication or therapy when it’s the parents who need it .

Have you ever ate a lil kid? Delicious- once they grow up their meat gets stringy. A friend of mines Dad would raise them and I’d buy a kid cause so much more tender. He’d want to charge me less cause the price was for grown but I like eating the kids and insist full price. My Baaaaaaaa-d
 
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toddbishop

Platinum Member
This is where you have to use your ingenuity to figure out what you *can* teach them. If they can’t do what you’re trying to get them to do, you have to break it down further. Or differently. They can be taught.

Most little kids are not into music, so your job them is to prepare them for when they do get into it— like when they’re 12-14. Give them some listening assignments and see if they like anything.

Ask them to buy a practice pad and a beginning snare drum book, and start working them through it. And kick that dad out of the lesson.
 

Griener

Member
Last fall I took a job teaching drums in the afternoon at a elementary school, six groups of four students, aged between 8 to 10 years. I was just working as a substitute for another teacher who did this job for years and I thought it would be quite a challenge since I usually only teach students at university level that are about to become professional drummers.
I must say after a initial phase where I was really bemused since a lot of those kids weren‘t interested in playing drums at all and for them it was just another lesson in school, I developed some ideas and I had a lot of fun, even when this probably was also where I got my Corona infection last October.
I started by having one of them invent a short phrase on the drums and the others had to repeat it one after another.
Since they knew it would be their turn to repeat somebody else‘s phrase as well they tried to play something that was possible to be duplicated. So that was one thing that really helped them to get a feel for the instrument.
I have to add that every kid was sitting at a full drum set.
Another idea was to put post-it stickers with a letter on each instrument and have them spell words by playing each instrument with the letter on.
I used the most common letters of the alphabet, provided some words to start with, but also had them find words.
We had a lot of fun and since most of them would never play drums outside of the class and most likely never in a band, I would find it useless to have four kids play a rock beat all at once (I don‘t like rock beats to begin with and I didn‘t want to loose my hearing as well)
Unfortunately the job wasn‘t paid well enough to keep going, but it was great to see these kids become interested after their initial lack of interest when I started there.. Maybe some of them got even interested to continue playing, but most likely I will never know.
In the end the kids showed up on time, got involved and were rather disappointed when I told them I was about to leave. I was sorry that I had to move on, but teaching those kids was a tough job and not really paid accordingly.
I do think that teachers at Kindergarten and elementary should get the best salary since their job is the most important.
Teaching at a university is a piece of cake; everybody is there to learn and already did a lot of work to arrive at this position, but by teaching young kids you can really make a difference.
 
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Griener

Member
I think one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to have preconceived ideas about what and how to teach and to assume that the student‘s interest is similar to your own.
Even at the university where I teach (for almost twenty years now), most students have a very different taste from my own, a very different reason to play music.
Some of them are mostly interested in drumming and music is just something they can play drums to; some are not even interested in a particular kind of music, at least not with the kind of burning desire I expect from somebody who wants to become a professional musician.
And even when I think that most of them will end up in another profession in the long run, I try to help them by finding out what it is they need from me.
Some of them end up becoming rather interesting, engaging drummers like these guys:





or some of them become middle-of-the-road working drummers, but all I can say I tried to help each of them
in a unique way with no preconceived ideas of how to approach the instrument.
So I think one should handle each student as a very special individual, especially when they‘re just kids.
I do know this is asking a lot, because when you‘re teaching a lot these students become just a blur of people that enter and leave your drum room one after another, but try to find out what makes them tick and how to get their interest and you will have a much better time with them.
 
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Trigger

Senior Member
My unmitigated opinion: If the student refuses to practice at home, he or she has no business being enrolled in lessons, and the parent is wasting both money and the instructor's time. Yes, aspects of learning should be fun, but the formal study of an instrument requires work and dedication. The pursuit isn't for everyone. Not every kid who bangs away on tables and seat cushions is cut out to be a drummer. Lessons require a serious mindset. If kids don't have it yet, they aren't ready for lessons. Maybe they never will be. Regardless, you can't force-feed knowledge. Progress is in the hands of the student, not in those of the teacher.
I never practised at home an my teacher catered my lessons around that. When I got older and started practising at home he changed my lessons again to accomodate that. Lessons really don't require a serious mindset. My teacher made lessons fun for a 9 year old and I'm still playing 23 years later.
 

basset52

Senior Member
Teaching kids is stressful - ask any teacher. Do you have an option to quit - unless something changes you're probably not doing yourself or the kids any good. Teaching is not for everybody. Teachers do a 4 year degree to learn how to teach. We all think because we know the subject matter we can teach - not true.
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
I think you have to go one of two ways, just make the lessons as fun as you can for you and the kids or just quit (you sound fed up with it). I personally wouldn’t teach any child under the age of 10...by 11 or 12 the kids who really want to play are still playing. That’s not to say that lessons for younger children aren’t valid, I know many of you guys on here fall into that category. It’s just for me personally knowing how modern parenting has gone, the majority of parents are sadly just glad of the babysitting service. :unsure:
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I never practised at home an my teacher catered my lessons around that. When I got older and started practising at home he changed my lessons again to accomodate that. Lessons really don't require a serious mindset. My teacher made lessons fun for a 9 year old and I'm still playing 23 years later.
There will always be exceptions, of course. By and large, however, those who fail to practice between lessons probably have little interest in drumming, a status unlikely to change in the future. In fact, taking lessons too early can create negative associations that are difficult to reverse. It really depends on the person in question.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
It depends on child but lil boys from 4-6 generally don’t focus to well- young girls take to lessons with a little more focus and discipline But it’s still a good time to expose them to it - because their brains still learn just from exposure. I think you have to teach parents to be realist with outcomes per child. I think some parents see drumming like “easy musical instrument” they can burn off energy with less demand so they should see quick results, but we all know that is bull crap - it’s an extremely difficult instrument. Burning off energy is correct though.
 

s1212z

Well-known member
Creative solution: Taiko no Tasujin is a well known and very popular arcade game in Japan and they released for the Switch a few years. It is a fun game that indirectly teaches some basics; no doubt kids would love it. The video is just showing off the advanced, there are basic levels.

Just an idea to generate some enthusiasm from a kid, to find a level that would excite them and them combine it with material you want to cover for real....maybe someday it would evolve into a lesson of New Breed. The game could be an investment equipment and you could play it too for....err, research purposes only :) . Grain of salt, I don't teach kids. But I would think if a kid would say they had fun and show some practice at home even just a bit, it may be enough to satisfy these parents.

 
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